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West Virginia billionaire businessman Jim Justice announces that he is running for governor of West Virginia as a Democrat in 2016 in White Sulphur Springs , W.Va., Monday, May 11, 2015. (AP Photo/Chris Tilley)
There’s a lot of commentary floating around about Monday’s big announcement that billionaire businessman Jim Justice is running for the Democratic nomination for governor of the great state of West Virginia. Some of it is fairly silly stuff.
Justice announced his Democratic bid for governor Monday in White Sulphur Springs, W.Va., which is home to his best-known asset — the posh and historic Greenbrier Resort.
“You need somebody that loves our state,” Justice told a crowd of supporters, “and somebody that doesn’t want a nickel for doing it.”
Obviously, a lot of people view Justice as a true hero. It’s great that folks who played on the basketball team he coaches think so highly of him, and that some businesspeople think doing business with Justice through just a handshake is a good idea.
Really and truly, though, Justice made some a couple of good points. For example:
When I was a little boy, West Virginia was at the bottom of every category coming or going. When my dad was a little boy, we were at the bottom. When his dad was a little boy, we were at the bottom. Something’s got to change.
Justice also said:
It’s not going to be easy. There are no magic potions.
But then there was this, in which Justice professed not to understand why West Virginia lags so far behind:
Perhaps most importantly, it seems impossible to imagine that a gubernatorial election that features Jim Justice as a candidate will involve the sort of real discussion about coal’s past and our future that West Virginians so desperately need. The candidates and the media aren’t up to the task of driving the debate that way. Just look at the Beckley paper’s follow-up story about the website the Republican party launched attacking Justice’s record on mine safety and environmental violations and fines — as if GOP candidates in West Virginia really favor strong enforcement that protects workers and curbs pollution. At this rate, we’re going to end up with another election that features nonsensical advertising campaigns over which candidate is more pro-coal and more anti-EPA. If the career campaign consultants have their way, every 2016 race in West Virginia will again be about President Obama, who won’t be on the ballot.
Sure, Jim Justice loves West Virginia. But it takes more than love to turn a troubled state like ours around.